How I slashed auto insurance costs by nearly $400

Spending less, tightening your belt, cutting costs: Call it what you like, but trimming the fat from your budget can feel like going on a diet. It’s restrictive. However, it doesn’t have to be.

One of the best ways I’ve found to save money is to avoid paying more than necessary for services you need. For example, I recently discovered that I was paying too much for auto insurance. By spending a little time getting a better deal, I slashed the premiums for my car (and my husband’s) by $389.

Click to read more about 20 common places people lose money.

The best part about it is that I was able to add money back into my budget without having to actually tighten my belt or eliminate things I enjoy. Find out how I cut the cost of auto insurance by nearly $400.

RELATED: 10 money-saving fast-food hacks

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10 money-saving fast-food hacks
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10 money-saving fast-food hacks

Restaurant: McDonald’s

Hack: Order two four-piece nuggets instead of one six-piece. It’s cheaper, you get more nuggets and you get more sauces. Score.

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Restaurant: McDonald’s

Hack: Order a McDouble without the ketchup and mustard but with lettuce and Big Mac sauce. You'll pay for the Big Mac taste for the price of a McDouble.

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Restaurant: Chipotle

Hack: Order half of one protein and half of another kind (like chicken and steak). You’ll almost always get more than half of each and end up with up to 1.5x the protein in your burrito or bowl for the price of a normal portion.

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Restaurant: Arby’s

Hack: Order two junior roast beef sandwiches instead of one regular classic. You'll end up with more meat for a lower price.

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Restaurant: Jamba Juice

Hack: Substitute any ingredient in any smoothie for the same price. If you’re craving a smoothie with non-fat yogurt instead of mango, or extra strawberries instead of blueberries, customize it to your liking without any extra charge. It will save you more than being charged for creating your own smoothie from scratch.

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Restaurant: Jack in the Box

Hack: Order two Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers and combine them into one for a much cheaper version of a Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger. 

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Restaurant: McDonald’s

Hack: Order a sausage McMuffin off of the dollar menu but ask for the sausage to be substituted with egg—an egg McMuffin for a dollar.

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Restaurant: Any pizza place

Hack: When you call to order delivery, ask if there were any orders that weren’t delivered—the pizza place will often give you those orders for a discounted price (perfect if cold pizza is your thing.)

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Restaurant: Subway

Hack: Order a Double Steak and Cheese Sub instead of the Philly Cheese Steak Sub—you’ll get the same sandwich at a normal foot-long price.

Photo credit: Getty

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I Shopped Around for a New Insurer

I thought I had already done a good job of getting cheap car insurance because my previous policy had been with an insurer that offers competitive rates (State Farm). I checked in frequently with my insurer to make sure my husband and I were getting all of the discounts we deserved. Our annual premiums of about $730 each were well below the national average of $907, according to ValuePenguin.

But earlier this year, I decided to reshop for homeowners insurance because my insurer didn’t carry a particular type of coverage I wanted. I worked with an independent insurance agent to get me quotes for both home and auto insurance from several carriers. As it turned out, the auto insurance I had wasn’t the best deal.

A study by J.D. Power found that auto insurance customers who reshop policies and switch insurers save an average of $356 on their annual premiums. By reshopping my auto insurance, I found that I could get cheaper coverage from an insurer with a much higher customer-satisfaction rating (Auto-Owners Insurance) than my previous insurer had.

Related: How This Man’s Daughter Saved Them Thousands on Car Insurance

I Got a Multipolicy Discount

Reshopping my auto insurance helped me realize I could get a better deal. But I used other strategies to get the cost down even more. For example, I got a multipolicy discount by getting auto, homeowners and umbrella liability coverage through the same insurer. I saved a total of $430 on all three policies by packaging them together.

I Increased My Deductible

I also cut auto insurance costs for our vehicles by increasing our deductibles from $1,000 to $2,000. That lowered each of our premiums by about $100.

This is a strategy you should use only if you can afford to pay the deductible when you file a claim. However, you don’t have to increase your deductible as much as I did to see savings. Just boosting it from, say, $200 to $500 can result in a lower insurance rate.

You can set money aside in an emergency fund to have enough cash to cover your deductible. Then you won’t find yourself in a financial pinch if you get in an accident and have to file a claim.

More on Setting Money Aside: 39 Ways to Save for Your Emergency Fund

I Paid My Premium in Full Rather Than Monthly

Another way to pay less for auto insurance is to pay your premium in full rather than monthly. Insurers typically offer a discount if you pay upfront.

My husband and I saved a total of $175 on our auto insurance premiums by paying them in full. Sure, it’s nice to lessen the blow on your budget by spreading insurance payments over 12 months. But it was worth it to pay the premiums for our two cars all at once to reduce the total amount we had to pay from $1,261 to $1,086 — a savings of about 14 percent.

Click through to read more about 35 ways to slash your car costs.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How I Slashed Auto Insurance Costs by Nearly $400

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